Value 3b: Follow the Blue Raven Six-Step Problem Solving Approach
At Blue Raven Solar, we have three values:
1. Develop a High-Trust Culture
2. Be Efficient
3. Continuously Improve.
Each value is accompanied by four statements that try to capture what living this value means for us.
Our third value, “Continuously improve,” means four things for us:
3a: Gather data to make decisions
3b: Follow the Blue Raven six-step problem solving approach
3c: Try new things and fail quickly
3d: Be go-getters
Value 3b is our topic today: Follow the Blue Raven Six-Step problem-solving approach.
The six-step problem solving process begins with problem identification. From experience, I know that if you ask somebody how they know whether something is a problem, you will typically get a blank stare in return. You will often hear: “You just know when something is a problem!” or “I’ve never really wondered that before… I guess it’s when there’s a problem?” Without proper problem identification, it’s impossible to live our value of continuous improvement.
Mike Rother’s book, Toyota Kata, explains it best. Put simply, problems are gaps between observations and expectations. Mike explains that to identify a problem, you need all 3 components.
First, you need the data about the current condition. What are the facts?
Next, you need a target condition. What is the goal?
Finally, you need to compare the two and understand where you are falling short.
We talk a lot about not skipping any steps in the problem-solving process. After rigorous problem identification (and prioritization), we conduct root cause problem solving to understand causality. We build issue trees, ask the 5-why’s, and keep digging to understand what is behind any gap in performance.
Steps 3 and 4, generating solutions and implementing action plans, are intuitive, but the process doesn’t end there. We make a point of following steps 5 and 6 with rigor. Evaluating the results of any initiative helps us determine if we got the solution right. Sustaining impact over time means we cannot afford to ‘forget’ or lose ground on an issue that we’ve solved in the past. Standard procedures, huddles, metrics and goals, and other tools are helpful here. Above all else, everybody must play a part in the problem-solving process. Solving problems isn’t up to the management team but rather a collective effort to implement creative and lasting solutions to complex problems.
More than anything, we believe that the operationalization of a continuous improvement culture is what leads to superior outcomes for homeowners and sets us apart from competitors. The six-step problem solving approach is at the very center of that effort.
We asked employees how they experience value 3b at Blue Raven Solar. Here is what some of them said:
With massive growth this year there has been a lot of issues to resolve. Using the problem-solving approach has helped to resolve these issues quickly and efficiently.
When a unique problem arises that may not have a typical process the six-step problem solving approach is used to solve those unique situations.
We are always trying new things here at the ‘ol Raven and when a new problem shows up, we always follow the problem-solving approach because it works.
We in customer ops are asked to break down things as much as we can before we get the process messy. We use this step every day. Literally EVERYDAY.
I love this value. It allows us to get to the root cause of the issue versus pointing fingers and spinning our wheels.
Any large-scale decision goes through the problem-solving approach, ensuring we gather all data that goes in to making a decision.
It really helps you understand the importance of the problem and where to prioritize it.
This is one of the best things I have seen within BRS over the years. It is great to hear the phrase “What is the Root Cause”… and fellow co-workers really try hard to fix it at the base vs just a quick fix and move on.
I think problem solving is a huge part of Blue Raven Solar. I don’t want to say we are constantly running into problems, but when we do run into them. I love that there is a 6-step guide Blue Raven has to offer that we can refer to that will help us resolve the problem. I think the great thing about all our values here at Blue Raven is they can be used in our everyday lives!
Snowed out on Thursday. Setup a ladder and realized there was a sheet of ice on the roof under the snow, called our RIM Jorge and he suggested we get some ice melt, open up the attic door(to let heat in to help melt the ice on the roof) and do what we could while we were there but we were unable to even begin the job so we came back Saturday after speaking with the homeowner and we agreed on 8am Saturday to start/finish the installation. 23 panel job completed in 5 hours after waiting for frost to melt off roof.
Customer ops was trying to figure out a way to best utilize our team to answer phones and tackle queue work. Management used the six-step problem solving approach to find a solution.
Using the problem board has been extremely useful in bringing to light the things that need to be considered before we make solutions to issues or roadblocks that we have.
Working in our huddles each morning it gives me a chance to rethink the problems I’m having and move them through the six-step process. I find that it solves my problems faster than I am used to and empowers me as an employee.
We’ve been following the value 3B out in the field almost every week. When we come upon a problem, we find the best solutions to resolve the issue.
Whenever there’s a problem in the props we immediately get down to finding the source of the problem, and not a quick solution, even though the process may take longer at first, if it eliminates the problem all together it is more efficient in the long run.
Our department has seen quite a few issues we have used this method to solve and have solved quite a few problems as a team.